Behavioral Safety for Developing Safety Culture

Dr.Kaila HarbansLal, Director- Forum of Behavioural Safety, Mumbai.

Behavioral Safety approach postulates that unsafe behaviors are at the base of any near misses, injury, fatalities. Business targets are genuinely achievable with safe behaviors at all levels. If unsafe behaviors are controlled, even near misses can be avoided. Organizationally, Behavioral Safety helps in decision-making for spot-correcting of the at-risk behavior by everyone at the site. It helps in building a business ecosystem with safe behaviours at work. Change of individual mindset is crucial that no single unsafe behavior at the site would be permitted unless spot-corrected.

Most of the safety management systems have aimed at controlling unsafe conditions, whereas almost 100% of accidents are triggered by unsafe acts or behaviors. Even unsafe conditions are nothing but the result of unsafe behaviours. It is important for workers and safety personnel to prevent and minimize the consequences of catastrophic releases of toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive chemical substances, which result in toxic or explosive hazards.

‘Safety First’ has remained only a slogan for Indian industry which does not appear in practice.  Organizations are challenged every day to produce a safety culture characterized by a continual drive toward the goal of maximum attainable safety, one in which errors and incidents are not only reported but are evaluated transparently. The concept of zero-accident refers to the total participation campaign into the organization which sounds attractive in a theoretical sense. But practically, zero-accident seems a far-fetched promise of business management as human safety would not get an absolute preference over profits from production. Safety mostly suffers as an attachment to the contractor, hence the financial responsibility should be of the contractor but safety responsibility must be held with the company.

All safety awards and certifications to organizations instituted by the reputed institutions in the country are questionable when on an average, about 30% at-risk behaviours are being practised by the people at workplaces. According to a head of the chemical plants, “sometimes we all agree to about 5% tolerance of safety deviations, which gradually turns out to be much higher in reality, so unless we all behaviorally and truly lead to practice zero tolerance towards safety violations, we can’t ensure safety culture and accidents would continue to happen as its happening”.

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